OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Hard Bargaining

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In their best-selling book on negotiation, Getting to Yes, Fisher, Ury, and Patton compare three kinds of negotiation or bargaining: soft, hard, and principled. Hard bargaining involves the negotiation of positions, rather than interests. It is highly competitive, seeing victory as the number one goal.   Hard bargainers, according to Fisher, Ury, and Patton, see the participants as adversaries, and demand concessions as a condition of the relationship.  They distrust the other side and play sneaky games to try to gain the negotiating advantage.   For example they will hold firm to their opening position, refusing to make concessions, they may mislead the opponent about their bottom line and demand one-sided gains as the price of an agreement.  They will apply tricks and pressure in an effort to win what they see as a contest of will.  Hard bargaining, as described by Fisher, Ury, and Patton is very similar to what is called "distributive bargaining" by other theorists--although there are enough differences to warrant a different essay on that topic.

When confronted with a softer opponent, hard bargaining almost always will win.   When confronted with another hard bargainer, however, it can result in no agreement, or an agreement which leaves potential mutual benefits "on the table."  (In other words, such benefits are not discovered or obtained.)  ) Fisher, Ury, and Patton suggest that principled negotiation–which negotiates interests rather than positions is the best alternative to either hard or soft bargaining.

Links to Examples of Hard Bargaining

Dean Pruitt--Strategic Choice in Negotiation
Pruitt discusses four basic negotiation strategies--problem solving, contending, yielding , and inaction, and the way in which each of these affects the   negotiation's outcome.  Contending is essentially the same as hard bargaining.
D. Lax and J. Sebenius, "The Manager as Negotiator: The Negotiator's Dilemma: Creating and Claiming Value
This article discusses when to use hard bargaining, when to use soft, and how to solve the dilemma of choosing between those two approaches.


Links to Related Approaches

Distributive Bargaining

Soft Bargaining

Principled Negotiation


Links to Related Problems

Overly Competitive Approaches to a Conflict

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